Computational Coordination Mechanisms: A tale of a struggle for flexibility
Coordination mechanisms (CMs) can be defined as any kind of computable construct whose aim is to organize activities performed by a group of actors that are called to collaborate for some purpose or reason. As such, CMs can be observed, conceived for and applied in a vast number of coordinative practices in almost every work setting. The advent of information and communication technologies has raised the issue of how these technologies could be used to help cooperating actors governing the increasing complexity of collaboration in modern organizations. This issue has been at the core of CSCW from its foundation until today: the field studies therein conducted have highlighted the flexibility by which human beings master this complexity. The requirement of flexibility has become one of the necessary conditions to guarantee the effectiveness of any computer support of coordination. The paper presents the main paradigms and approaches that have been proposed to fulfil this challenging requirement. The story shows that this effort has really been a sort of a struggle for either conceptual and technological solutions that are still to be fully realized and generally adopted in the field of work.